FA Cup represents Tottenham's best chance to win a trophy and Jose Mourinho the opportunity to show he still has the Midas touch

Tottenham, traditionally known as a 'cup team' last won the trophy in 1991. They face Norwich City for a place in the quarter-finals

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Jose Mourinho’s appointment at Tottenham Hotspur didn't, on the whole, elicit typical fanfare from his new side’s supporters.

It was part linked to a loyalty to Mauricio Pochettino, the agreeable Argentine who had grown exasperated by the club’s relative lack of investment in the transfer market. Pochettino had guided Spurs through their most consistent period of the Premier League era, through the move to Wembley and the relocation back home, if only in site, not structure.

The decision in November to replace a fan favourite with Mourinho brought with it an apprehension. The Portuguese’s divisive denouement at Manchester United reinforced the sense that the Special One’s sheen had begun to erode.

Despite that, it was offered that a manager with a track record of trophies could finally bring silverware to Spurs. For all the success of Pochettino’s tenure – three top-three finishes on the bounce, a Uefa Champions League final – the “cup-team” club lasted lifted a title 12 years ago.

In a way, Mourinho represented an antidote of sorts. If Pochettino piloted prolonged progress, Mourinho prioritised the tangibles. Even if his time at United ultimately felt a failure, he landed the League Cup and the Europa League in his first season.

For the most part, he has been a serial winner. In England alone, through two spells at Chelsea and the two-and-a-bit seasons at United, Mourinho collected nine major trophies. Humour him, and the twin Community Shields swell that number further.

Forever keen to add to his CV, he is running out of opportunities with Spurs this season. A return to the Champions League final always seemed a stretch, even before succeeding Pochettino. It grew ever more difficult late last month, when RB Leipzig left London with a 1-0 lead in their last-16 clash. The return leg takes place next week.

In the Premier League, Spurs remain in the hunt for a top-four finish, but Sunday's damaging home defeat to Wolves means they lie seventh with matches fast expiring. One place behind but level on points, Sheffield United have a game in hand. Conceivably, eight teams vie for one spot, currently occupied by Chelsea.


The FA Cup, then, constitutes Spurs’ greatest chance of success this season. On Wednesday, they host Norwich City with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. They stand four victories from a trophy, four wins from a swift endorsement of Mourinho’s predilection to deliver.

Of course, there are obvious obstacles plugging their path. As Mourinho has determined to highlight, Spurs are without their two prize attackers: Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

On Sunday, Dele Alli started at the tip of the team; Lucas Moura has done so, too. Even Steven Bergwijn, the January recruit from PSV Eindhoven, whose integration into the side has been quicker than anticipated. Needs must. None are particularly suited to the role.

Searching for solutions, time is not on Mourinho’s side. Spurs are in the thick of a congested calendar – nine matches in 33 days – with the most crucial period of the campaign to come.


The hope is the FA Cup can act as a spur. They have worked hard to get to even this point, with successive replays against Middlesbrough and Southampton. At least they have drawn Norwich at home.

Once the FA Cup’s great gatherers, Spurs haven’t won the trophy since securing their eighth, in 1991. They haven’t contested the final since then. In that time, Arsenal have nine victories, Chelsea seven – once with Mourinho.

So both the manager and his players have a point to prove. The FA Cup would go some way to validating his appointment, hard evidence that he can add the material to the sizeable moves forward masterminded by Pochettino.

It would indicate that Mourinho's Midas touch - some of it, at least - remains.